Squatting is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your lower body muscles. The plate squat is a compound exercise that also works on multiple joints and your core.
Weighted squats are a great exercise to develop strength.
The plate squat involves doing squats while carrying a weighted plate. The plate is recommended when you want to refine your form since the plate is already shoulder-width.
To do this exercise:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and imagine you’re trying to push them outwards to engage your glutes.
- Hold the plate at your chest with your elbows bent.
- Take a deep breath to engage your core and lower into a squat. Raise your arms up with your elbows locked.
- Return to the start position.
- Perform eight reps.
WHAT MUSCLES DO PLATE SQUAT WORK?
The main muscles the plate squat works on are the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. By holding a plate overhead, the exercise will also work on your triceps and deltoids.
The glutes are the largest muscle in the body. They are located in your backside.
They are made of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
The plate squat primarily targets the gluteus maximus because it is the largest gluteal muscle.
It provides the most power to your lower body. Squats are the best exercise for your glutes since they provide the heaviest load.
They cause maximum tension during contraction which happens when you lower into the squat.
The quads are the muscles found in the front of your thighs. They are the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris.
Squats help strengthen these muscles and boost their definition.
Quads help with leg extension and protect your knee from instability.
The hamstrings are the muscles in the back of your thighs. They are made up of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris.
The hamstrings aren’t as developed by the plate squat as the quads. However, they play an important role in stabilizing your hips as you lower your body into the squat.
Adding the plate to the exercise activates the hamstrings more.
It’s important to note that to further strengthen the hamstrings, you should add deadlifts to your routine.
These are the large diamond-shaped muscles found on the back of the lower leg. The calves have two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
They are activated for ankle stability.
They won’t be exhausted as much as the glutes and the quads but the calves will be strengthened.
Plate squats will also boost ankle strength and mobility.
PLATE SQUAT BENEFITS
1. INCREASE BONE DENSITY AND JOINT STRENGTH
The plate squat is a perfect exercise to strengthen your skeletal muscular system. It strengthens the muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments.
This helps improve joint function.
The squat allows you to add a heavy load which is essential for increasing bone density.
2. INCREASE PRODUCTION OF TESTOSTERONE
Compound exercises increase the body’s production of anabolic hormone release in men. This includes testosterone and growth hormones.
This makes the squats excellent for building lower body strength.
3. REDUCE THE RISK OF INJURY
As mentioned earlier, squats strengthen your muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons. In addition to this, the plate squat also strengthens your spine.
This means that when you do other activities, you minimize the risk of injury. You also reduce the risk of muscle tears or joint buckling when doing other exercises.
4. IMPROVE ATHLETIC ABILITY
Nearly all athletes add squats to their routines.
Squats improve balance, reduce the risk of injury and strengthen your lower body muscles.
This in turn leads to improved coordination, sprint speed and boosts your vertical jump.
5. BOOST CORE STRENGTH
The plate squat tests your core differently compared to planks and leg raises.
Weighted squats boost lower body strength which in turn boosts spinal stability. When you add squat exercises to your routine, you make it easier to achieve core strength when you do isometric core exercises.
6. MEET YOUR WEIGHT LOSS GOALS
Squats help you burn a lot of calories.
By engaging multiple muscles, squats need more energy. Your body burns more fat when doing squats.
Additionally, the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Squats can help you maintain your goal weight.
ALTERNATIVES TO PLATE SQUATS
1. BARBELL GLUTE BRIDGE
To do this exercise:
- Lay flat on your back on a bench or on a mat on the floor.
- Rest a barbell where your hips bend. You can use a wrap-around pad to cushion the weight against your body.
- Bend your knees 90 degrees so they point up to the ceiling.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Grip the handle of the barbell.
- Use your heels to push your hips upward as you hold the barbell. Keep your shoulders and head flat on the floor. Keep your knees pointing upward with your body forming a straight line from your shoulders to your hips.
- Hold the position for a few seconds then lower to the starting position.
- Do this ten times.
- Repeat the exercise 2-3 times in your routine resting up to two minutes between sets.
2. KETTLEBELL SWING
To do this exercise:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Hold a kettlebell in both hands in front of you. Keep your chest up and out, your shoulders back and your core tight.
- Keep your back and neck straight and bend at the hips so the kettlebell swings between your legs and behind. Don’t let it hit your butt.
- Squeeze your glutes and extend your hips when you swing the kettlebell forward and up. Don’t swing it further than your chin.
PLATE SQUAT MISTAKES TO AVOID
When squatting, avoid letting your knees cave in. Always flare them out.
Start the movement by hinging your hips and engaging your core and thighs. Don’t bend your knees.
Don’t let your knees fall ahead of your toes. Sit back into your hips and keep your back upright to avoid this.
If you let your chest fall forward or hunch, you risk losing your balance and falling forward. Using a plate increases the risk of very serious injuries. Ensure your chest stays up.